Project Members
Alex Moses
Lynda Moylan

Introduction

Generating student interest in science is a constant challenge in public schools today, particularly among low-income and minority students (National Research Council, 2011). Meanwhile, studies on technology access show that these same students often lack the type of access needed to achieve 21st Century skills (Cummins, Brown & Sayers, 2007). Our two-week pollution unit aims to address these two issues with an interdisciplinary lesson mixing science with technology, global studies and writing in a resource-constrained Baltimore City middle school.
Our project kicks off with a field trip and culminates with a free-form discussion and written reflection involving 35 seventh-graders in two science classes. Engagement with science can be bolstered through the study of socioscientific issues, which help science come alive through exploration, data collection, collaboration and reflection on science topics that directly affect students’ lives and inspire civic engagement (Latourelle & Poplawsky, et al, 2010). Our socioscientific issue is pollution, and our unit engages students with the issue on local and global levels. Locally, through a data-collection trip to the Inner Harbor, and globally, through the online sharing of pollution findings posted by a sister-school in South Africa. Throughout the unit, our students collaborate with one another to generate ideas and learn to work in teams, and the media specialist provides guiding questions to inspire critical thinking and keep the students on-task.
The media specialist plays a central role in this project as the player who ties the disciplines together with technology to create a place for more authentic engagement with the science (Subramaniam, Ahn, Fleischmann & Druin., in press). Our school is not technology rich, nor are its students. The teachers are time-pressed and so the media specialist must choose technology that is manageable for all parties and still meaningful to use for the project. Students create their final project in Wikispaces, which opens the door for engagement with the school in South Africa while not requiring in-depth training for the teachers. Supplementary technology pieces include digital cameras for documenting data, Dabbleboard for collaborative brainstorming, online databases for research, and NoodleTools for citations. The technology pieces are essential tools without which the project would be far less engaging and would miss the global connections we want our students to make (Jenkins, 2006).
The main lessons, all supported by some technology, are designed to engage students in science while teaching them how to make observations and write a research statement and a question for action (Lesson 1); show them how technology can be used to research and present findings to a global audience (Lessons 2 & 3); and get students to think critically about the impact of pollution on their lives through open discussions and reflective writing (Mini-lesson 4 and Wrap-up). Adding this final bit of writing is a non-tech piece that is essential to tying the pieces of the unit together and such work has been shown to increase interest in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math (Davis, 2003).
While students will have a rubric to accompany these lessons and will be graded accordingly, our greatest measure of how well students do on this project will be if they can demonstrate a clear understanding of the role of science in their lives and are inspired to take action to alleviate pollution.

The Topic & Standards

Topic: Pollution Project
Grade: 7th grade (35 students in two classes)

This project supports the seventh grade science teachers in their environmental science unit through a critical thinking exercise that asks students to consider the impact and problem of pollution in their own city and across the globe. The interdisciplinary unit is designed to support the essential environmental science material with research, writing, technology and global competence standards that teach the students to think more deeply, learn how to support their theories with research, present that research in new ways using technology and share their findings with a wider audience. Finally, we want them to reflect on their discoveries to understand the impact of science in their lives.

Science (MD State Curriculum: Science, Grade 7 **http://mdk12.org/instruction/curriculum/science/standard1/grade7.html**):

Standard 1.0 Skills and Processes: Students will demonstrate the thinking and acting inherent in the practice of science.
  • Topic A: Constructing Knowledge
    • Indicator 1: Design, analyze, or carry out simple investigations and formulate appropriate conclusions based on data obtained or provided.
      • Objective c: Explain and provide examples that all hypotheses are valuable, even if they turn out not to be true, if they lead to fruitful investigations.
      • Objective d: Locate information in reference books, back issues of newspapers, magazines and compact disks, and computer databases.
      • Objective i: Explain why accurate recordkeeping, openness, and replication are essential for maintaining an investigator's credibility with other scientists and society.
  • Topic C: Communicating Scientific Information
    • Indicator 1: Develop explanations that explicitly link data from investigations conducted, selected readings and, when appropriate, contributions from historical discoveries.
      • Objective a: Organize and present data in tables and graphs and identify relationships they reveal.
      • Objective g: Recognize that important contributions to the advancement of science, mathematics, and technology have been made by different kinds of people, in different cultures, at different times.

Standard 6.0 Environmental Science: Students will use scientific skills and processes to explain the interactions of environmental factors (living and non-living) and analyze their impact from a local to a global perspective.
  • Topic A: Natural Resources and Human Needs
    • Indicator 1: Recognize and explain the impact of a changing human population on the use of natural resources and on environmental quality.
      • Objective a: Based on data identify and describe the positive and negative impacts of an increasing human population on the use of natural resources.
    • Topic B: Environmental Issues
      • Indicator 1: Recognize and describe that environmental changes can have local, regional, and global consequences.
        • Objective a: Identify and describe a local, regional, or global environmental issue.
        • Objective b: Identify and describe that different individual people or groups of people are affected by an issue in different ways.

The lessons are set up to ensure that the skills and processes listed above in standard 1.0 are met. The students will construct knowledge by recording their own observations (by handwriting notes on a graphic organizer and by using a digital camera to capture images) and then developing a research statement from their observations. They will then do research using LMS created pathfinders to apply evidence and reasoning to their observations. They will communicate the scientific information to each other (in person) and to the other school (virtually). While they will not be required to make a graph, they will have to textually represent their findings. Standard 6.0 directly relates to the curriculum that the students have learned. All of the lessons will teach them about natural resources, human needs and environmental issues. Their observations and questions, combined with what they learn from each other and the sister school, will teach them firsthand about increasing human population and the positive and negative impacts on their local environment and across the globe.

Maryland Common Core (Writing **http://mdk12.org/share/frameworks/CCSC_Writing_gr6-8.pdf**):

  • W1.a Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically. Essential Skills: Adapt the prewriting stage of the writing process to an argument, including developing alternate claims. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • W2.b Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples. Gather information about a topic and compare and contrast that information from a variety of reliable print and digital sources. Determine the most appropriate information gathered from a variety of reliable sources.
  • W8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; using search terms effectively; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
  • W6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources. This includes multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.
  • W10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences. Essential Skills: Adjust the writing process as necessary for different grade appropriate writing tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Writing will be a common theme throughout the lessons. Starting with note-taking on their field trip and the creation of their Dabbleboards and moving to their research notes, wiki pages and reflection, students will be writing routinely over the course of the unit and using a variety of forms of writing. They will use prewriting in Lesson 1, gather information in lesson 2, use technology to present their organized writing in lesson 3 and write reflections to wrap up the unit. Technology also drives their collaboration, both with the Dabbleboard and their wikipages.

Maryland Technology Literacy Standards (**http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/techlit/docs/MTLSS%20Complete.pdf**):

Standard 3.0 Technology for Learning and Collaboration
  • Use a variety of technologies for learning and collaboration
    • A. Learning
      • 1. Select and use technology tools to enhance learning
        • a) Use technology tools, including software and hardware, from a range of teacher-selected options to learn new content or reinforce skills.
        • b) Explain why specific technology tools were selected to support learning.
    • B. Encourage Collaboration
      • 1. Select and use technology tools to encourage collaboration
        • a) Use technology tools to work collaboratively within the school community.
        • b) Use technology tools to exchange ideas with individuals or groups outside of the school community.
        • c) Articulate the advantages of collaboration supported by technology tools.
    • C. Increase Productivity
      • 1. Select and use technology tools to increase productivity
        • b) Create new documents to complete learning assignments and demonstrate new understanding.
        • e) Use word processing technology when appropriate.

Standard 4.0 Technology for Communication and Expression
  • Use technology to communicate information and express ideas using various media formats
    • A. Communication
      • 1. Select and use technology for communication.
        • b) Present information independently to various audiences.
    • B. Expression
      • 1. Select and use technology to express ideas
        • a) Select and use the appropriate multimedia and publishing tools to express original ideas with print, drawings, digital images, video, sounds, and/or personal recordings.
        • b) Present ideas and information in formats such as electronic presentations, web pages, graphic organizers, or spreadsheets that are appropriate to a specific audience.

Students will start their technology lesson with Dabbleboard, which encourages communication; students will use its chat feature to make suggestions in class. Learning to use the Dabbleboard also lays the groundwork for Wikispaces, which is their medium for communicating their ideas and research to the world. With the wiki, they will not only write a research paper, but present it in an attractive format, using subheadings, multiple pages and photographs. Viewing the South African students' wikis and then writing reflections will reinforce the power of the technology to express information to a wider audience.

Global competence (English Language Arts **http://asiasociety.org/node/20784**):

Investigate the World: Students investigate the world beyond their immediate environment.
  • Students can;
    • Analyze, integrate, synthesize, and appropriately cite sources of evidence collected to construct coherent responses to globally significant researchable questions.
    • Develop and logically and persuasively present an argument based on compelling evidence that considers multiple perspectives and draws defensible conclusions about a globally significant issue.
Communicate Ideas: Students communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences.
  • Students can;
    • Select and use appropriate technology, media, and literary genres to share insights, findings, concepts, and proposals with diverse audiences.
    • Use appropriate language, behavior, language arts strategies (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) and non-verbal strategies to effectively communicate with diverse audiences.

Take Action: Students translate their ideas and findings into appropriate actions to improve conditions.
  • Students can;
    • Identify and create opportunities for personal and collaborative actions, using reading, writing, speaking, and listening to address situations, events, and issues to improve conditions.

Our students meet the global competency standards by researching the effect of pollution on the local wildlife and proposing an action to alleviate pollution; creating a project to be shared with global peers; and reading the projects of students from another country, discussing the commonalities and writing reflections that draw connections between the local and the global. The lessons revolve around the idea that students will be observing their own world and then sharing what they found with another class across the globe – in turn, learning about the other class’ world. This process involves communicating their ideas in a way that their audience will understand. The goal of the project is that students will learn what action needs to be taken to keep the Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Bay clean and that they will encourage others to do the same.

Library Media standards (MD State Curriculum: **http://mdk12.org/instruction/curriculum/library_media/index.htm**l)

1.0: Define and Refine Problem or Question: Students will be able to follow an inquiry process to define a problem, formulate questions, and refine either or both to meet a personal and/or assigned information need.
  • A1. Follow an inquiry process and connect the process to real life
  • B2. Determine the scope of the information need.
    • a. Create, refine, and use criteria to determine the scope of an information need
  • B3. Formulate and refine questions to meet an information need
    • a. Use prior knowledge to individually formulate and refine questions to meet an information need. Formulate and refine questions to meet an information need.
    • b. Use background information to refine researchable questions

5.0 Share Findings/Conclusions: Students will be able to follow an inquiry process to share findings/conclusions in an appropriate format to support written, oral, and multimedia information products and evaluate the products and the processes in an ethical manner.
  • A1. Use a variety of formats to prepare the findings/conclusions of the information need for sharing.
    • a. Organize and display findings/conclusions in a variety of formats, including the use of technology.
    • b. Design layouts that communicate content effectively for intended audiences
    • d. Use technology to present findings/conclusions in a variety of formats

These standards will be met when: 1) the students go through the process of creating a research statement – they will use the Dabbleboard to create and refine their question using their prior knowledge and 2) the students organize their research in their wiki pages using an introduction, subheads, photos and a conclusion to create a project that can clearly communicate their pollution findings with the South African students.

The Setting and Context

Our setting is a public middle school in Baltimore City Schools, where nearly 83% of the district’s middle school students qualify for free and reduced meals. There is a 30% student mobility rate and the schools have limited wealth for resources ($271,978 per student, compared to Montgomery County, which has $764,044) (2011 Maryland Report Card). Studies indicate that low-income families have less access to technology in the ways necessary to support school assignments – no printers for homework, unreliable Internet access and limited access to home computers. A 2010 Pew study showed that while 95% of high-income households use the Internet at home in some fashion, just 57% of the poorest do (Jansen, 2010). Often, the type of Internet access, via mobile devices and gaming counsels, doesn’t offer the type of Internet use that is useful to school work (Edutopia, Oct. 24, 2011).

This setting offers a number of challenges to meaningful technology integration. First, there is the issue of hardware and connectivity. Our students won’t be expected to work at home on any part of their assignments that require a computer or Internet access. The district’s lack of wealth also equates to less money for school hardware, and we can assume that there are few computers in the classroom. This means that the project must be conducted and completed in the library media center during the students’ scheduled class time. There are 17 students in each of the two science classes and 20 computers, so the students’ only collaboration between the classes will happen on the field trip. Additionally, students will need digital cameras on their field trip to document their observations. Students will work in groups of six and share the photography duties. The library media center won’t have a smartboard available for lessons, as they are costly and limited to regular classroom use at this school.

These challenges inspired us to use free technology resources for the major portions of the project: Wikispaces as the research presentation tool and Dabbleboard to take the place of an interactive whiteboard. While we do make use of the limited databases to which the district subscribes, many of the digital resources are accessible on the Web. We also include a number of print materials in case we encounter broken computers – a likely scenario, given the district’s technology budget – or connectivity problems. The district does have NoodleTools for the citation work that comes later in the project.

The second challenge is the students’ range of need for academic support. This is a “regular” science classroom, with students ranging from low-performing to high-performing. There will be some scaffolding necessary in our lessons, particularly given the limits on at-home technology and the district’s high mobility. The science teachers will have already conducted units on aquatic life in the Bay and pollution. Students should have a grasp of how to conduct research from the earlier grades, but the mobility and the differing academic levels require the LMS to take the students step by step into creating a statement for research and conducting research. This includes use of guided questions, vocabulary terms, lists of Bay creatures, and detailed pathfinders to aid their research. We will pay special attention to cognitive load to preserve the intended benefits of this project – to create an interest in science through local and global connections (Latourelle & Poplawsky).

Students will come into this project with varying levels of comfort with technology. We will provide significant help setting up the Wikispace, with a preview of the technology shown during their research time, plus a day devoted to the technology instruction and a model wiki project created by the LMS. The science teachers will be available to assist the media specialist during this time in the computer lab but they will also need to encourage students to help each other. There are only two adults and 17 students, so students may need to support one another to make sure everyone is on the same technical step. Those students who are able to jump ahead may take advantage of extra points offered for going beyond the project’s minimum requirements.

We have made a number of backup plans for technology failure. If the Internet is down, the pathfinders include print resources and students will use a paper graphic organizer to keep track of their research notes. The lessons that require the Dabbleboard can be conducted with an old-fashioned whiteboard, and we have built in an extra day in case there are a number of broken computers to give all students a chance to complete their Wikis. If the whole lab is out of order, then we will re-schedule the class. If a student is absent during the course of the project, we will try to schedule time for them to come into the computer lab during their lunch period.

We are building on an existing research project and unit of study – the state standards include environmental science – and have an established relationship with the two science teachers. Their specific subject expertise is necessary, particularly to ensure the students are on track with their research and their identification of the aquatic creatures. But because we are extending this year’s project and adding an interdisciplinary component, new planning is required. To accommodate everyone’s busy schedule, we will employ alternative ways of communicating (such as email). Teachers pull double-duty helping kids get to the buses, monitoring recess and helping in the cafeteria and may end up with last-minute challenges that shorten any scheduled meetings, and potentially the project itself; the project could be extended into a third week, but time constraints for the science teachers make that impossible. We may have to concede that some of the media center time may have to be done without the presence of the teachers. Because there are a limited computers, each science class will work in the computer lab separately. We have allowed for possible make-up time if a students misses class, but most students rely on school buses and therefore can’t arrive early or stay late, so the make-up has to happen during regular school hours.

Additionally, while we include reflective writing as part of the project, getting the language arts teachers on board at the same time as the science teachers was difficult, so the writing exercise will be conducted as free writing designed to engage critical thinking skills, but not subject to a strict writing rubric. Students will have already had a lesson on reflective writing.

One advantage at the school is its international club that formed a sister-school relationship with a school in South Africa. The Baltimore students will share their wikis with the sister school and vice versa. We faced a logistical challenge about how to accomplish the global portion of the project and Wikispaces made the most sense. It does several things: it makes use of social technology without requiring a steep (and time-consuming) learning curve; it doesn’t require any downloading and it’s unlikely to be blocked by the school’s firewall; it can be protected yet shareable; and the students will be able to view the wikis during their scheduled time in the media center. This does require some coordination to make sure that the South African students wikipages are ready for viewing when our students will be in the media center. Since we have an established relationship with the South African school, we will discuss timing of the project well in advance of our implementation. The aim would be for the South African students to have their wikipages ready for our students to view at least one day before our students will be in the media center specifically to read them.


It is our hope that all the students will be comfortable sharing their work and we want them to learn from what their global peers have discovered. We have created a number of backup plans so that everyone can be a part of the learning and knowledge-sharing process.

The Materials and Technology Tools You will Need

Technology tools:
  • Hardware: Digital cameras (6), Desktop computers (20), screen, projector
  • Software: Access to a network folder on the school’s server, Microsoft Word
  • Web-based (Internet access):Class wiki, Electronic Pathfinder (includes free databases and websites),Dabbleboard,NoodleTools
  • Screen and projector

Non-technology tools:

The students will use digital cameras during the field trip to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to document the trash and Bay creatures they observe. They will also use a hard copy graphic organizer (and pens/pencils) to keep track of the trash and creatures as well as the smells, sounds, and visual air quality they observe. Back at the school, the media specialist will upload each group’s (there will be 6 groups) digital images to shared folders on the school’s network server.

Computers, network access, and Internet access will be necessary for the students to retrieve their digital images; use Dabbleboard to learn how to create a research statement, conduct their research using the electronic pathfinder, and create their wikis; view the sister school’s Wikispace; and type up their handwritten reflections. Students will use their own computer in the media center computer lab. If the computers and/or Internet are down the students will still be able to use the printed materials (graphic organizers, handouts, books) to get some work done; however, they won’t be able to work on their final project wiki without a working computer and Internet access. The media center has a projector and screen that the media specialist will use to demonstrate Dabbleboard, NoodleTools, and Wikispaces. This will allow the students to have a brief visual of what they are about to learn and use.

Dabbleboard is a virtual “smart board.” Our school doesn’t have smart boards so we identified a comparable technology tool that is free of cost and will allow the media specialist to teach the lessons in the computer lab. The students will be able to follow along with the media specialist as she explains/models how to write a research statement, conduct research using a pathfinder, and how to create and edit wikipages. Dabbleboard includes special features that will allow students to “chat” with the media specialist and their peers during the lesson in order to ask questions and make suggestions. This technology creates a collaborative teaching and learning environment.

A wiki will be used for the students’ final project. It is a web-based resource that incorporates basic web-editing skills (such as inserting a file) with basic Word processing skills (such as applying styles to text). Our wiki has been set up as “K-12 educational” and is protected by the media specialist. The students will learn how to organize and present their digital images, research statement and research to the sister school. They also will learn from the sister school’s wiki. Technology makes it possible to take their science project from a local to global level.

NoodleTools is a fee-based technology that our district utilizes. In the global world of technology it is becoming more and more important to instill the importance of citing sources to our students. This technology will help students format their citations and create a works cited sheet. This will strengthen students’ general information skills while offloading some of the tedious work involved in formatting a bibliography. NoodeTools allows them to focus on the larger task of the final project without sacrificing the importance of citing their sources in the correct format.

The Implementation & Assignments

The media specialist has long supported the science teachers’ unit on the Chesapeake Bay with a research lesson in the media center. Yet, after last year’s spring unit on the Bay, the teachers and the LMS decided it was time to give the research lesson a revamp to better meet 21st Century learning goals and get students more interested in what's happening around them. (Asia Society). Given the schools’ unique international club and sister-school relationship with a South African school, the team decided to try to infuse some global learning standards.

The teachers and the LMS serve many roles in their school, so the three brainstormed over email during the fall for a planned two-week unit to take place in the spring, when Bay life starts to bloom and students can be outdoors to observe the large amounts of trash and other pollutants in and along the water. Note: The students will have just finished studying the Bay and pollution, so this project is not about teaching those science units. Rather, it is designed to extend and deepen that learning through a first-person look at how pollution affects their local waterway.

The project starts on a Friday with a field trip to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The two 7th-grade science classes will work in teams of six to make observations about the pollution and the wildlife in the Harbor, taking photographs and making detailed notes, guided by questions on the graphic organizer. Limits on technology funding mean the students have only one camera per group. However, it does require that the students work together to share findings as a research team.

Week 1 begins the following Monday, with the two classes coming to the media center during separate periods. In this first week the students will complete Lessons 1 & 2, as well as get a preview of Wikispaces, the technology piece for their final projects. This should give students enough time to finish the research portion of the project while also allowing for any technological or scheduling issues that might interrupt the unit.

The students’ first assignment: Take their field notes and create a statement for research and a question for action, following the steps modeled by the LMS. On day one, the LMS will lead the lesson using Dabbleboard, a free, online whiteboard tool intended for collaborative tasks. This media center has no interactive whiteboard, and so Dabbleboard offers the best way for students to collectively brainstorm using technology and get some experience with an online, collaborative tool (Nesbit & Adesope, 2006). When the students arrive in the media center that first day, they will be assigned specific computers with a Dabbleboard already launched. The LMS will have set up each student with a Dabbleboard login so they can dive right into the lesson. The science teachers will be on hand to help keep the students on task and aid in the brainstorming session.

Starting with their field notes, the LMS and the students will go through the steps toward a good research statement and an action question, with students able to use the chat feature of the Dabbleboard from their own computers rather than raising their hand to make suggestions. Using the tech tool in this way gives students who don’t typically speak up in class an opportunity and a means to contribute more meaningfully (Edutopia, April 16, 2008). Once the process has been modeled, the students will then go through the steps individually, creating their own Dabbleboard. They will be allowed to brainstorm with their neighbors to create a research statement and question for action. Ideally, students will be able to finish this task the first day, but time has been allotted for it to continue into day two if needed. One of the purposes behind this lesson is to get students to break down their knowledge and build it back up to create a meaningful and well-formed starting point for their research. They will submit their assignment by simply saving their Dabbleboard. As a backstop, they'll also be asked to write their research statement and action question on their field notes, which will be collected by their teachers at the end of the lesson.

If the computers aren’t working properly, or the Dabbleboard site is down, the LMS will instead hand out printed graphic organizers for students to use, and will use a printed copy of a model Dabbleboard to help guide the students through the process. Students will work in small groups to help one other write their statement and question.

Lesson 2 is a research lesson that will be taught in the media center computer lab. The LMS will distribute the students’ field notes along with a research note-taking graphic organizer. The students will sign into Dabbleboard using the same login information from Lesson 1 (the LMS will have the login information). Using Dabbleboard and a projector, the LMS’s computer screen will be projected onto a screen located at the front of the computer lab. Students will also be able to follow along on their own computer screens and use the same collaborative features, such as sharing their Dabbleboards and chatting, that they learned about and used during Lesson 1.

The LMS will show students how to access the electronic pathfinder created specifically for the pollution project. All of the resources have been vetted by the LMS and are electronic, require no subscription fee, and are not blocked by the school’s firewall. The LMS selected online databases and websites and organized them by the following topics: recycling, pollution and wildlife. Each topic includes 3-5 annotated resources. The LMS also provided suggested key words for searching the resources and vocabulary terms to help students who struggle with spelling and to help reduce cognitive load. Throughout our lessons we consider cognitive load – we've segmented the lessons and provided pre-training, and we've relied on the technique of signaling through written notes and graphic organizers for students to outline their project and plan for the final product (Mayer & Moreno, 2003). The LMS will explain what constitutes a “good” source and why the resources were selected for the pathfinder. The LMS will have pulled books from the collection for students to use, so if any computers are broken or the Internet is down the students will still be able to conduct some research. Multiple electronic resources were provided in case any of the websites are down during the students’ scheduled time in the computer lab.

During the demonstration, the LMS will locate useful information in a source and show the students NoodleTools. The LMS will show students where to locate the citation information in the resource and how to sign into NoodleTools and fill in the appropriate fields in order to create an APA formatted works cited list. The school has a subscription to NoodleTools, and this should be a quick refresher for students who would learn this in 6th grade.

The research lesson will focus on best practices. The LMS will model how to take notes from a source instead of copying full sentences. The students will use the note-taking graphic organizer to organize their research. Their research will focus on guiding questions (included on the graphic organizer) that address; 1) how the pollution affects the Bay creatures, and, 2) how the pollution could have been prevented (through recycling, etc.). The students will also be asked to make connections between their research and their observations during the field trip on the graphic organizer. The LMS will remind the students that their research statements may change as they do their research and that this is OK. The LMS will also remind the students that their research findings and photos need to be connected and well-formed in order to educate their South African peers about the environmental issues affecting their local community.

The students will be required to note their sources on the graphic organizer to help them keep track of which notes are supported by which source. They will be required to cite at least 3 sources, including not more than one encyclopedia (print or digital). The students will have the remainder of the class to work independently on the computers. They will be encouraged to start searching the resources in the pathfinder. The next time they are in the computer lab they will have a full class period to conduct their actual research. They will have one extra day this week to finish up their research, allow for any make-up work, and get a preview of Wikispaces to set the stage for lesson 3.

Week 2 begins with Lesson 3. The students have completed their research and it’s time for them to prepare and produce their information. From the computer lab they will each login to Dabbleboard and follow along on their computer with the LMS (whose computer screen will also be projected on a big screen). The LMS will demonstrate Wikispaces by logging into the Wikispace she has already set up for the pollution project (a homepage for each student has been setup along with a demo homepage and two completed sub-pages). She will explain what a wiki can do and how the class is going to use it to present their research findings and photos and to view the research and photos from their sister school in South Africa.

The LMS will demonstrate how to add two sub-pages and the students will complete this task as the LMS goes through each step. The science teacher will be “roaming” the lab to assist students who need help and keep students on task. Students will be encouraged to help each other. Once the sub-pages are set up the LMS will walk the students through how to edit their homepage. She will show them how to enter, apply text styles, and save text. Then she will show them how to insert hyperlinks to each sub-page.

Once the students’ wiki sub-pages have been set up and linked to their homepage, the LMS will demonstrate how to access the school’s network folder. This is where the students will be able to select the digital images they would like to embed in their wiki. The LMS will remind the students to keep track of who took the photo, as they will need to include photo credits on their wiki.

If time allows, the LMS will demonstrate (as the students complete the steps) how to upload the photos to the wiki and embed them in the appropriate sub-page. If time does not allow, then the students will start with this step the next day. Once the photos are embedded the remaining tasks for the students involve entering text in their wikipages. They will work on this independently during the second day of Lesson 3 to complete their wiki. This lesson has a day built-in for make-up, technology troubleshooting and to give students adequate time to complete their wikis. If students are not all finished by the end of day two, day three will be used to complete the work. The target requirements for each student’s wiki: The homepage includes a four-sentence overview and clearly defined research statement; sub-page one includes two embedded photos, with captions and credits; sub-page two includes their research findings, organized by at least two subheads, a conclusion, and an APA formatted works cited sheet. If students need extra time or miss a class the LMS will open the computer lab during lunch. Since the wiki is a web-based technology it can be accessed from any computer at any time.

Note: We chose Wikispaces because it is a form of social media that can help prepare students for their future role as creators of media, giving them the exposure to the tools of the 21st Century. As Jenkins notes in his 2003 article, schools must put more time into teaching new media literacies. “Every child deserves the chance to express him- or herself through words, sounds, and images, even if most will never write, perform, or draw professionally. Having these experiences, we believe, changes the way youth think about themselves and alters the way they look at work created by others” (12).

The last two days of this project are designed to drive home this very point by showing students how people across the globe can face issues much like the ones they face at home. It’s also an opportunity for students to actively reflect on what they’ve learned before moving on to their next unit of study. On the first day of this two-day mini-lesson (technically Lesson 4), the students will log onto the computers and read the wikipages created by the South African students. The LMS will give them a Reflection Note-Taking.pdf with things to consider while they are reading the South African students wikis and ask them to take notes, paying particular attention to any local/global connections they might be able to make.

During the last third of the period, the LMS will engage the students in a discussion on their observations about the South African wikipages, inviting the students to share with their peers some of the local/global connections they saw as they read the wikis. The LMS will use a projector to write down some of the connections the students suggest, so that the whole class can benefit from the observations. As homework, the LMS will have the students begin draft reflections, with attention to at least some of the guiding questions and a focus on how the pollution problems and/or suggested solutions were similar. The students will have had a lesson on reflective writing in their language arts class.

On day two of this lesson – the last day of the unit – the LMS will give the students time to type up their reflections and put them into a new subpage on their wiki. The LMS and the science teachers will help students focus their reflections, and urge students to think deeply about how pollution is a global issue and what they might do to solve a pollution problem at home or around the world. Students will be allowed to discuss their thoughts with their peers, unless the discussions continually go off-topic. While students will have to meet some minimum requirements with their writing, it is designed to be more unstructured to generate personal interest in the material (Lunsford).

While this unit technically ends here, it is the media specialist’s hope that this type of project will take off at this school. Ideally, students would get a chance to follow-up later with their sister-school peers on this and other issues to foster a more global view.



The Lessons

Lesson 1

Objectives:
–Students will learn how to take observations on two science topics (pollution and Chesapeake Bay life), combine them with prior knowledge and create a research statement and a question for action. The research statement should draw a connection between the two areas, and the action question should be inspired by their research statement and their prior knowledge of pollution control efforts.

–Students will learn to use an online technology tool, Dabbleboard, to share information. They will learn how to use the online tool to brainstorm and create their research statement and action question.

Time: Two class periods in the media center.

Description: Students were given a graphic organizer.pdf on their field trip to keep track of observations on pollution and trash in the Inner Harbor and the life they observed there. They will start with those notes and brainstorm with the LMS and their teacher on a sample research statement, using Dabbleboard (see implementation). Through a combination of collaborative work and direct instruction, the students will learn to make a connection between something from their pollution column and something from their Bay life column by asking detailed questions (i.e., “Is this bird endangered? Will the oil in the water make them sick? What could be done to prevent that trash from getting in the Harbor?”). The LMS will take this collective brainstorming and model how it leads to a research statement and an action question. Throughout, the LMS is showing the students the basic steps of using a Dabbleboard.

The students will then use Dabbleboard to brainstorm and come up with their own research statements and action questions. Students can help each other, but must come to a research statement on their own. Throughout this lesson, the LMS and the science teachers will provide support and remind students that the Dabbleboards will be viewed by the students in the South African school. Students will have a printed sheet with the Dabbleboard instructions.doc as well as the project rubric.

Assessment: Students will receive up to 15 points for a good Dabbleboard, as described in the project rubric.

Note: The research statement is the result of their observations and will form the bulk of their research in Lesson 2. The action question is designed to keep them thinking throughout of a way that the pollution could be prevented and will be a part of their final project as well as their wrap-up reflection. The use of the Dabbleboard gives them a basis for online work that will help their understanding in the later lesson using Wikispaces.

Materials: One computer per student; online access to load the free program Dabbleboard; the students’ completed field trip graphic organizers, which were collected and kept by their teachers; pencils and printed Dabbleboard Backup.doc handouts in case the computers are not working properly or the class cannot connect to Dabbleboard; printed handouts reminding students of how to create their Dabbleboard.

Standards:
–Maryland State Library Media Standard 1.0: Define and Refine Problem or Question
–Maryland State Science Standard 6.0 Environmental Science: Indicator 1, objective a
–Maryland State Technology Standard 3.0 – Technology for Learning and Collaboration
–Maryland Common Core Standard W1a – Prewriting

Lesson 2

Objectives:
–Students will learn how to research their statement. They will work independently in the computer lab. They will use an electronic pathfinder and take handwritten notes using a hardcopy graphic organizer (both created by the media specialist).

–Students will have a refresher lesson on NoodleTools about citing their sources and creating a works cited sheet.

Time: Two-three class periods in the media center.

Description: The students will log on to their own computer in the computer lab. The media specialist will use Dabbleboard to demonstrate how to access the pathfinder and how to search it. The media specialist will explain the resources on the pathfinder; specifically why they are included and what constitutes a “good” source. The media specialist will also go over the keywords and how the students can find the information they need. The media specialist will emphasize that their photos and research findings need to be well-formed in order to educate their South African peers about the environmental issues affecting their local community.

The students will research two types of information; how the trash affects the Bay creatures and how the trash or pollution could be managed. They will use a hard copy graphic organizer to record their research notes. The graphic organizer will include the item (creature or trash) observed, research about the item, the source of the research, and how they think the trash affects the creatures based on the research. There will be guiding questions to get the students thinking about the information they are researching and how it ties to what they observed on their field trip. The media specialist will remind the students that their research statements may change as they do their research.

The media specialist will give a refresher lesson on NoodeTools. Even though the students will be taking handwritten notes on the sources they cite on their graphic organizer, they will need to learn how to use NoodeTools when they create their final project wiki and need to electronically cite their sources and compile a works cited sheet.

Assessment: Students must use at least three sources and only one may be an encyclopedia (print or digital) and take detailed notes in their graphic organizer. Students will receive up to 20 points for this portion of the project, as described in the rubric.

Materials: One computer per student; online access; the students’ completed field trip graphic organizers, which were collected and kept by their teachers at the end of Lesson 1; printed note-taking graphic organizers (which will be collected by their teachers at the end of Lesson 2, along with the field trip graphic organizers); pencils and the print books the LMS has pulled for research; and a copy of the project rubric.

Standards:
–Maryland State Science Standards 1.0 & 6.0
–Global Competence: English Language Arts: Investigate the World
–Maryland Common Core Writing Standards W2.b & W8

Lesson 3

Objectives:
–Students will learn to use Wikispaces. They will create a total of 3 wikipages that will include their research statement, photographs from the field trip, research findings and citations.

–Students will learn more about how their wikipages will be shared with the school’s sister school in South Africa. Students also will learn more about how they will view the wikipages created by the students at the sister school.

Time: Two-three class periods in the media center.

Description: The media specialist will have set up a homepage for each student in the class Wikispace. Students will log on to their own computer in the computer lab. Using Dabbleboard, the media specialist will demonstrate how to access the wiki, edit an existing page, add sub-pages, edit sub-pages, and save work. The media specialist will explain how the wiki has been set up. Student will learn how to access the network folder of digital images that the media specialist uploaded after the field trip.

Students will work independently after the technology lesson. Students will write a brief introduction to their research statement on their homepage. They will add two sub-pages. One will include at least two photos, with captions and photo credits. The other sub-page will include their research findings, conclusion and works cited list.

Assessment: Students will receive up to 55 points for this portion of the project, as described in the rubric.

Materials: One computer per student; the students’ completed field trip graphic organizers and note-taking graphic organizers, which were collected and kept by their teachers at the end of lessons 1 & 2; printed handouts reminding students of the assignment.

Standards:
–Global Competence: English Language Arts: Communicate Ideas
–Maryland Common Core writing standard W6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing
–Maryland School Library Media Standard 5.0
–Maryland Technology Standards 3.0 & 4.0

Lesson 4

Objectives:
–Students will think beyond their immediate environment and make connections to the global world. They should be able to draw comparisons, think in terms of action and articulate their thoughts orally and through written reflection.
Note: This is a more informal setting designed to encourage students to discuss global issues with their peers.

Time: Two class periods in the media center.

Description: Students will come into the media center to read the wikipages created by the South African students. They will be given some questions to consider as they read, and will be asked to take detailed notes on their Reflection Note-Taking.pdf graphic organizer. Students will spend half the period reading the wikipages and taking notes. The LMS will then ask the students to talk about what they discovered and encourage them to share their thoughts out loud. Students will spend the remainder of the period discussing as a class what they thought about the South African students' wikipages. As needed, the LMS will guide the discussion back to the local/global connections. As homework, the students will be asked to begin drafting their reflections. On day two of this lesson, the LMS will briefly model reflective writing and students will type up their reflections by creating a subpage on their wiki.

Materials: One computer per student; online access; pencils and the reflection graphic organizer. Projector and screen for LMS to post notes.

Standards:
–Global Competence: English Language Arts: Communicate Ideas & Take Action
–Maryland Common Core Writing Standard: W10

References